I am delighted to have a brief opportunity to comment on this. It is unusual procedure. In my time in the House, I think I might have only seen it on one other occasion. A whole range of important measures that are necessary to improve road safety have been introduced in this country. It could be said that the Minister should have brought these issues before us in a more comprehensive consolidated Bill on Second Stage and then brought them to the committee. The reality is that as of yesterday, 49 people have tragically died in road traffic collisions so far this year, I think just two fewer than this time last year. While the 2017 figures were lower than those of the previous year, with 159 fatalities in 2017 compared with 187 in 2016, there are still far too many families and friends left totally devastated week after week and month after month because of injuries and deaths sustained in serious road traffic collisions.
Deputy Tommy Broughan has recently been asking the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald, and of course, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross, for figures relating to unaccompanied learner drivers who have been involved in fatal or serious road traffic collisions. Deputy Broughan asked these questions on behalf of PARC civil society group as part of the work it has been undertaking in supporting families bereaved by RTCs caused by unaccompanied learner drivers.
Deputy Broughan has today received a reply from the Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald, to a Parliamentary Question raised regarding the number of Fixed Charge Notices (FCNs) issued to learner drivers in 2014 and 2015 for driving unaccompanied and for non-display of L plates.
The reply shows that of the 4,259 FCNs issued for non-display of L Plates in 2014 & 2015 just 2,089 were paid meaning that 2,170 were unpaid. There were 5,860 FCNs issued in 2014 & 2015 to learner drivers who were not accompanied by a qualified driver and of these 3,097 paid the FCN and 2,763 did not pay.